Student Testing, iPads, OpenLibrary, Insight Schools, Broadband Map, Adjunct Faculty, Grants

Tougher Climate for Test Givers
by Allie Grasgreen
March 1, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

“With three weeks to go before new federal regulations make it easier for students with disabilities to request special accommodations, the Justice Department used a high-profile case to signal its intention to strongly protect the rights of disabled test takers. The settlement closes a federal investigation that grew from a January 2008 complaint by a Yale University student, who alleged that the National Board of Medical Examiners twice denied him the additional time and separate testing area he needed to complete the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, students may request such accommodations if they can prove they have a medical need.”

“And while the settlement suggests the federal government’s increased inclination to enforce such rules, it isn’t exactly groundbreaking in its timing. That is because on March 15, new amendments to the ADA will take effect, clamping down on testing agencies and colleges on the same issues addressed in the settlement.” . . .

iPads Become Learning Tools for Students with Disabilities
By Nirvi Shah
March 1, 2011, Education Week

. . . “Tablet computers are useful for students with disabilities because some of the applications available for them easily and cheaply replace bulky, expensive older forms of assistive technology. For children with poor fine-motor skills, the touch-screen design is easier to use than a desktop computer with a mouse or a laptop with a touchpad. The screen’s size makes the gadget user-friendly for students with vision problems.”

“ ‘For a child who may be a little slower learner, struggling with reading, has an arm that doesn’t work, the [tablet-style] computer has all these modalities, sound and touch. The technology can compensate for the special-needs kids in a way that traditional media cannot compensate,’ said Elliot M. Soloway, a University of Michigan professor of education as well as of electrical engineering and computer science. The machines offer a sense of independence many children, especially those with disabilities, may never have experienced before.” . . .

Internet Cheating Scandal Shakes Japan Universities
by Martin Fackler
March 1, 2011, New York Times

“At first, the postings on a popular Web site last week seemed innocuous enough: a user soliciting help for answers to a series of difficult math and English questions. But it later became clear that the questions were taken straight from an entrance exam to prestigious Kyoto University. And they were being posted — and being answered by other users — while the exam was still under way. On Tuesday, the police began a manhunt for one or possibly more users who are believed to have used a single online handle, “aicezuki,” to cheat on exams at Kyoto University and three other top universities. The schools say they suspect test takers used cellphones to post the questions on the site and get the answers while the tests were still in progress.” . . .

In-Library eBook Lending Program Launched
by Laurie N. Taylor
Feb. 24, 2011, Digital Library Center Blog – University of Florida

“Today, a group of libraries led by the Internet Archive announced a new, cooperative 80,000+ eBook lending collection of mostly 20th century books on OpenLibrary.org, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction. During a library visit, patrons with an OpenLibrary.org account can borrow any of these lendable eBooks using laptops, reading devices or library computers. This new twist on the traditional lending model could increase eBook use and revenue for publishers. ‘As readers go digital, so are our libraries,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “It’s fabulous to work with such a great group of 150 forward-thinking libraries.’ ”

How it Works

“Any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore, which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology. Readers can use laptops, library computers and tablet devices including the iPad.” . . .

U. of Phoenix Parent Company Sells Its Online High-School Business to Kaplan
Feb. 25, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education
by Goldie Blumenstyk

“The Apollo Group Inc., parent company of the University of Phoenix, has quietly sold its online school business, Insight Schools Inc., to one of its chief rivals, Kaplan Inc. The deal, completed earlier this month, comes as both companies face continued pressure from government regulators on their larger higher-education businesses. Neither company would disclose the price but said it was not large enough to be a ‘material’ factor in their overall finances.”

“Apollo bought Insight in 2007 and had announced more than a year ago that it would try to sell it. Insight operates as an online-education provider for public-school systems and charter schools, receiving its revenues from those systems and schools. It also runs an online private school called Olympus High School. The K-12 online-education market is now far smaller than the higher-education market, but it is projected to grow.” . . .

Cracking Down on Distance Learning Fraud
by Ellie Ashford
Feb. 25, 2011, Community College Times

“Since a few high-profile cases have shown a spotlight on student loan fraud involving distance education, community colleges have implemented more controls to detect and prevent it. The good news is that despite the well-known cases in recent years, distance learning fraud is not that extensive and it is relatively easy to detect, according to Michael Goldstein, an attorney with the law firm Dow Lohnes in Washington, D.C., who serves as general counsel for the American Association of Community Colleges.”

“Fraud related to distance learning doesn’t seem to be more prevalent than other types of fraud involving community college students, Goldstein says. And compared with student aid fraud involving traditional classes, fraud related to distance learning “is in some ways somewhat more difficult to commit,” he says, because students need a password to log in to their courses.” . . .

NTIA Unveils National Broadband Map
Feb. 18, 2011, RedOrbit

“According to a national broadband map released by the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in cooperation with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as many as one in ten Americans do not have Internet connections that are fast enough for online activities such as watching videos or teleconferencing, and 65 percent of schools have broadband connections that are too slow to meet their needs. The national broadband map, which shows what types of high-speed Internet connections are available, or not, across the entire country, and was mandated by the 2009 economic stimulus bill, went live Thursday at http://www.broadbandmap.gov.”

Also see, “ Survey of Online Access Finds Digital Divide,” by Cecilia Kang in the Washington Post, Feb.17, 2011

Blackboard’s Next Phase
by Steve Kolowich
Feb. 22, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

“Blackboard built its e-learning empire on its learning management system, trading legal blows with some competitors and gobbling up others as it raced to satisfy demand for a technology that had rapidly become de rigueur in higher education.”

“That period of conquest is now over. Last fall, close to 95 percent of institutions had some learning management system in place, according to the Campus Computing Project. Accordingly, Blackboard’s business strategy is changing: with the company adding four new, separately licensed products to its menu in the last three years, Blackboard expects that it will soon no longer rely on Learn, its popular learning management system, to bring home the bacon.” . . .

MarylandOnline’s Inter-Institutional Project to Train Higher Education Adjunct Faculty to Teach Online
by Julie Shattuck, Bobbi Dubins, Diana Zilberman
February 2011, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

This article reports on an inter-institutional project to design, develop, pilot, and evaluate a state-wide online training course for higher education adjunct faculty who are preparing to teach their first online course. We begin with a brief literature review to contextualize the stated problem the project sought to address: the need for quality, accessible training for online adjunct faculty. We then give background information to describe the environment in which the project was situated before detailing the process of designing and piloting the first iteration of the Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT) course. Using a mixed-methods approach (surveys and reflection journals), data were collected from the adjunct faculty who took the COAT course, the COAT instructor, and the COAT design team. The results indicate that the pilot COAT course did meet the perceived needs and expectations of the course participants. We finish by discussing our plans for the next phase of this project.

The Isolation of Online Adjunct Faculty and Its Impact on their Performance
by Véra L B Dolan
February 2011, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Using a grounded theory qualitative research approach, this article examines the experiences of 28 adjunct faculty members who work at the same university, exploring their views on whether periodically meeting face-to-face with management and peers has the potential to affect their motivation on the job and consequently the quality of education they provide to students. A few management representatives also shared their perspectives on the phenomenon; this enabled the researcher to compare the views of these two populations on whether face-to-face contact among faculty enhances teaching performance. The results of this study suggest a few issues that online schools must address in their efforts to improve adjuncts’ sense of affiliation and loyalty to their institution, which in turn will positively affect student retention levels. The main issues of concern to adjunct faculty are (a) inadequate frequency and depth of communication, regardless of the means used, whether online or face-to-face; (b) lack of recognition of instructors’ value to the institution; and (c) lack of opportunities for skill development.

Delimiting the Prospect of Openness: An Examination of Initial Student Approaches to E-Learning
by Christopher Francis Naughton, John Roder, Juliette Emma Smeed
February 2011, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

When converting from a paper-based distance mode to an online mode of teaching, certain expectations arise that students may engage not only in the development of extended research activity but that the quality of discussion and thinking will change. With access to open-ended discussion within the online forum the opportunity is afforded to students to share ideas and in turn develop their shared knowledge, a facility denied to them when in the paper distance mode. However, in a recent study conducted in New Zealand, it was shown that despite having access to online forums students moving to an online platform refrained from participation in this social exchange. A possible explanation for this indifference was thought to be the students realising that the online exchange made no impact on their assessment. Hence, the collaborative rhetoric of Web 2.0 made little impact when the summative evaluation remained unchanged from previous paper-based assessment. This paper reports on the introduction of online learning at a private tertiary college in New Zealand and describes the response of students who found difficulty in reconciling a community of learners and openness within what was perceived as an evaluation that remained individualistic and competitive in nature.

Upcoming Grant Deadlines

Cyberinfrastructure Training, Education, Advancement, and Mentoring for Our 21st Century Workforce (CI-TEAM)
National Science Foundation Update
Program Guidelines: NSF 11-515

Full Proposal Deadline: March 16, 2011

The CI-TEAM program supports projects that integrate science and engineering research and education activities that range from local activities to global-scale efforts, as appropriate, to promote, leverage and utilize cyberinfrastructure systems, tools and services.

Collectively, the CI-TEAM awards will:
— Increase the numbers of scientists, engineers, educators, and/or students prepared to design, develop, adopt and deploy cyber-based tools and environments for computational science and engineering research and learning, both formal and informal. This is to include individuals who are otherwise well prepared in the STEM disciplines.
— Produce curricular and pedagogical materials, learning technologies, and institutional models for preparing the cyberinfrastructure workforce that are broadly adaptable and/or adoptable, and publish related outcomes that inform others of promising educational approaches.
— Increase and broaden the participation of diverse groups of people and organizations as both creators and users of cyberinfrastructure for research and education. Currently underrepresented groups include women, those in underserved rural regions of the country, those who would be the first in their family to graduate from college, and minorities including those associated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and communities.

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
National Science Foundation
Program Guidelines: NSF 11-517

Full Proposal Deadline: March 23, 2011

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The Noyce Scholarship Track provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends, and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who earn a teaching credential and commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts.

Career Pathways Innovation Fund Grants Program
Employment and Training Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Application Deadline: March 31, 2011

The U.S. Department of Labor announces the availability of up to $122 million in grant funds to be awarded under the Career Pathways Innovation Fund (CPIF) Solicitation for Grant Applications. At least $65 million of the total designated funds will be reserved for projects that focus on the health care sector.

These grants will support successful applicants in developing and implementing career pathway programs in partnership with employers and other relevant organizations in the community. The overarching goals for projects funded under this SGA are to: 1) increase the number of individuals who earn credentials that enable them to compete for employment in in-demand and emerging industries and occupations; 2) lead to employment for program participants; 3) articulate and ease academic and employment transitions, through the implementation of articulation agreements and other activities, for students of different skill levels and at varying academic levels, including students with low English or basic skills proficiency; 4) establish multiple entry and exit points for students along the post-secondary education continuum; and, 5) create systemic change that will last beyond the grant period by establishing partnerships, agreements, processes, and programs that better connect the education, training, workforce, and supportive services necessary to achieve the preceding four goals, including strengthening the role of the public workforce system in career pathway programs.

Four types of entities are eligible to apply as lead grantees: local workforce investment boards, individual community and technical colleges, community college districts, and state community college systems.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program
Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Federal Register Announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-02-24/html/2011-4137.htm

Application Deadline: April 25, 2011

Distance learning and telemedicine grants are specifically designed to provide access to education, training and health care resources for people in rural America. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program provides financial assistance to encourage and improve telemedicine services and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced technologies to be used by students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents.

The grants, which are awarded through a competitive process, may be used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment and related advanced technologies which extend educational and medical applications into rural locations. Grants are made for projects where the benefit is primarily delivered to end users that are not at the same location as the source of the education or health care service.

Student Testing, iPads, OpenLibrary, Insight Schools, Broadband Map, Adjunct Faculty, Grants

State Regs, Students, Horizon Rpt, Attainment, Google, Wireless, OERs, PTFP

State Approval Regulations for Distance Education: A ‘Starter’ List Compiled January 2011
Jan. 26, 2011, WCET, SREB, ADEC, University of Wyoming

On Oct. 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced “If an institution is offering postsecondary education through distance or correspondence education to students in a State in which it is not physically located, the institution must meet any State requirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary distance or correspondence education in that State. We are further providing that an institution must be able to document upon request by the Department that it has the applicable State approval.” Institutions will need to comply with this regulation in every state in which they have online students by July 1, 2011.

WCET, the Southern Regional Education Board, the American Distance Education Consortium, and the University of Wyoming have teamed up to publish this document to help institutions navigate the state-by-state regulations regarding approval of distance education institutions. “While we can’t answer all your questions, we’re hoping that we can get you started.”

See the WCET Web site for additional resources at http://wcet.wiche.edu/advance/state-approval
ITC article, “State Authorization for Institutions Offering Distance Education to Out-of-State Students,” by Christine Mullins

Survey Shows College Students Overwhelmed, Underprepared
by Scott Aronowitz
Feb. 16, 2011, Campus Technology

“The 2011 report, ‘Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement and Learning Outcomes,’ released this week, identified significant obstacles to student success, most notably financial pressures and lack of adequate preparedness in certain skills areas. ‘Students today face new challenges and are increasingly spread thin, whether it’s [because they are] working full time, balancing finances or caring for families. Instructors feel the pressure, too, as they try to do more with fewer resources and teach students who are either ill-prepared for their day’s lesson or distracted by other issues,’ said William Rieders, executive vice president of new media for Cengage Learning. ‘Companies need to develop innovative technologies that make it easier to keep today’s students more engaged and better equipped for future educational success.’ ”

“Students:
— Roughly half of those surveyed hold full- or part-time jobs;
— 30 percent of students have significant external responsibilities, such as paying for school, paying off other debts, raising families, etc.;
— 71 percent of students who are employed full-time and 77 percent of students who are employed part-time prefer more technology-based tools in the classroom;
— 86 percent of students say that, in the last year, their average level of engagement has increased with their increased use of digital tools, and 67 percent prefer courses that integrate technology;
— The use of technology has not had a noticeable effect on external distractions most frequently cited, such as employment, personal issues, or course-related distractions such as opinions about irrelevance of material; and
— Use of digital resources in and out of class has helped students improve in such areas as being prepared for class and general aversion to technology.”

“Instructors:
— 58 percent of those surveyed ‘believe that technology in courses positively impacts student engagement,’ and an equal percentage indicated they prefer to teach courses that use “a great deal of technology’; and
— 71 percent of instructors that rated student engagement levels as ‘high’ reported that using technology as an integral component of courses has a highly favorable impact on learning outcomes.”

Google Announces Payment System for Digital Content
by Claire Cain Miller
Feb. 16, 2011, New York Times

“A day after Apple stirred up online publishers by announcing a digital subscription plan that some called too restrictive and financially burdensome, Google on Wednesday announced its own payment service for digital content that aims to be more publisher-friendly. Google’s service, called Google One Pass, is a way for online publishers to sell digital content on the Web and through mobile applications using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout. Readers will be able to get access to that content on many devices using their Google e-mail address and password. ‘The overall goal is to bring publishers a simple way to charge for content they choose to charge for, and for readers to have simple access without any restrictions on which devices they use,’ said Jeannie Hornung, a Google spokeswoman.” . . .

The Horizon Report 2011
February 2011, The New Media Consortium and The Educause Learning Initiative

“The six technologies featured in the 2011 Horizon Report are placed along three adoption horizons that indicate likely time frames for their entrance into mainstream use for teaching, learning, or creative inquiry.”
— Within the next 12 months: electronic books and mobiles
— Two to three years: augmented reality and game-based learning
— Four to five years: gesture-based computing and learning analytics

“The highest ranked challenges they identified are listed here, in the order of their rated importance.
1. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
2. Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag behind the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.
3. Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of the university.
4. Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike.”

For-Profit Colleges Show Increasing Dependence on Federal Student Aid
by Goldie Blumenstyk
Feb. 15, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Eight for-profit colleges failed to meet the requirements of a federal law that says they can get no more than 90 percent of their revenues from federal student-aid programs, and an additional 257 of them took in nearly the legal limit, exceeding the 85-percent mark, a report released on Wednesday by the Department of Education shows.” (http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/datacenter/proprietary.html)

“The report for the most recent accounting period also shows that an increasing number of for-profit colleges are becoming more heavily reliant on federal student-aid — so much so that a number of them are close to the point at which they could lose eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs. For that reason, many of the colleges have been vigorously lobbying Congress to ease or eliminate the law, known as the ‘90/10 rule.’ ”

Finalists Announced for Gates ‘Next Generation Learning’ Grants
Feb. 15, 2011, Inside Higher Ed Quick Takes

“Next Generation Learning Challenges, a program that plans to disburse $20 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to educational technology projects over the next two years, on Monday released the 50 higher-ed finalists for its first round of grants. The projects were chosen as finalists based on their potential impact on college access and completion through the development and use of open courseware, blended learning, “deeper” learning, and learning analytics. About 60 percent of the finalists are expected to receive grants. The foundation is currently working on selecting the winners, which are expected to be announced in early spring.”

Is Completion the Right Goal?
by David Moltz
Feb. 16, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “Hauptman explains in his paper that attainment rates, defined as the ‘percentage of the working population who earn a degree,’ have grown steadily in the United States in recent decades, whereas an underlying premise of the chorus of ‘completion agenda’ setters is that attainment rates have been flat. He also bemoans that many educators often conflate these rates with completion rates, defined as the ‘percentage of entering students who earn a degree.’ ”

“The former measurement is much more elucidating, he argues. Attainment rates, he writes, can track students’ access to and success in higher education, show trends over time by looking at the age of workers, and differentiate between bachelor’s and sub-bachelor’s programs. In addition, Hauptman argued that it would be better to set goals (and, in turn, adopt policies) that focus on increasing the number of degrees awarded instead of increasing completion or attainment rates. A focus on completion over attainment, and on rates over numbers, may encourage colleges to behave in ways that may not be best for students, he argues. One problem with the growing emphasis on increasing completion rates is that it ‘diverts attention from increasing enrollments’ as a strategy to increase attainment, he says. Institutional officials should find ways to increase enrollments in ‘academic units where utilization is low’ without increasing overall pricing.” . . .

Google’s Gadfly
by Steve Kolowich
Feb. 16, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “ ‘Google,’ Vaidhyanathan observes, ‘is an example of a stunningly successful firm behaving as much like a university as it can afford to.’ But as is often the case with cousins, the genetic differences between higher education and Google are more striking than their similarities. Beneath the interdependence and shared hereditary traits, tensions creep. And like an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, Vaidhyanathan’s new book, “The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)” (University of California Press), provokes these tensions to the surface.” . . .

Community College Enrollment Growth Slows Down
by Caralee Adams
Feb. 14, 2011, Education Week

“The number of students who enrolled in community college last fall was up 3.2 percent from the previous year– a significant slowdown compared with the 11 percent increase from fall 2008 to fall 2009, according to a new report released by the American Association of Community Colleges (http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Publications/Reports/Documents/CommunityGrowth.pdf).”

“Community colleges have experienced enrollment increases in eight of the past 10 years and represent 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates. Community colleges have grown by more than 20 percent over the past three years with 1.4 million more students enrolled in fall 2010 than in fall 2007. The additional 3.2 percent last fall translates into 250,000 new students.” . . .

Arkansas State U.’s Online Deal Violated ‘Spirit’ of Shared Governance, Faculty Panel Says
by Jack Stripling
Feb. 13, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Arkansas State University administrators violated the “spirit” of shared governance by entering into an agreement with a private company to help deliver online courses, a university committee has determined. With no input from non-administrative faculty, Arkansas State signed a contract with Higher Ed Holdings in 2008, granting the company a percentage of tuition revenues in exchange for its assistance in delivering online courses to a minimum of 1,000 students each year. The Faculty Senate adopted a resolution in December that questioned the agreement, leading to the formation of a Subcommittee on Shared Governance, which conducted an investigation of Arkansas State’s relationship with the company, now known as Academic Partnerships.”

“While Arkansas State’s contract with the company specifically stipulates that the university will maintain control of academic decisions, some professors have questioned whether the necessity to increase class enrollments to make the venture profitable for Academic Partnerships ultimately affects how and what they can teach. Given those concerns, faculty should have been involved in the decision-making process, the subcommittee found.” . . .

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century
Premiere Feb. 13, 2011 – check your PBS listings for rebroadcast dates, , Public Broadcasting Service

“Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century addresses this vital question, taking viewers to the frontlines of what is rapidly becoming an education revolution. The film, targeted at parents, teachers, and anyone concerned about education in America, explores how exceptional educators are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students’ curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning.”

Obama Touts Plan to Get Wireless Internet to 98 Percent Of U.S.
by Cecilia Kang
Feb. 10, 2011, The Washington Post

. . . “Speaking at Northern Michigan University, Obama said he would use $18 billion in federal funds to get 98 percent of the nation connected to the Internet on smartphones and tablet computers in five years. To get there, the federal government will try to bring more radio waves into the hands of wireless carriers to bolster the nation’s networks and prevent a jam of Internet traffic. He said he hoped to raise about $27.8 billion by auctioning airwaves now in the hands of television stations and government agencies.”

“And with that auction money, the government would fund new rural 4G wireless networks and a mobile communications system for fire, police and emergency responders. The remaining funds raised – about $10 billion – would go toward lowering the federal deficit over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office has said the deficit will climb to $1.5 trillion this year.” . . .

Community-College Students Say They Struggle to Get Into Needed Classes
by Elyse Ashburn
Feb. 9, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“From students’ perspective, community colleges are no longer able to offer the access to an education that they have long promised, says a report released on Wednesday. One in five community-college students had a difficult time getting into at least one course that they needed in fall 2010, and almost a third could not get into a class that they wanted, according to the national survey, commissioned by the Pearson Foundation. Hispanic students were particularly affected, with 55 percent saying they could not enroll in a class they wanted because it was already full. About 28 percent of students who took placement tests said they could not enroll in all of the recommended classes.” . . .

Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education
by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Louis Soares, Louis Caldera
Feb. 8, 2011, Center for American Progress

. . . “Online learning appears to be this technology enabler for higher education. It is for the first time disrupting higher education — and indeed helps explain much of the rapid growth in the up-start for-profit higher education sector over the last 10 years, even as many colleges and universities have struggled financially and had to cut back. Roughly 10 percent of students in 2003 took at least one online course. That fraction grew to 25 percent in 2008, was nearly 30 percent in the fall of 2009, and we project it will be 50 percent in 2014.1”

“The second element of a disruptive innovation is a business model innovation. Disruptive innovations are plugged into new models, which allow organizations to serve a job to be done in the lives of customers at this new lower price point or in this new, far more convenient fashion without extra cost. Plugging a disruptive innovation into an existing business model never results in transformation of the model; instead, the existing model co-opts the innovation to sustain how it operates. What this means is that, generally speaking, the disruption of higher education at public universities will likely need to be managed at the level of state systems of higher education, not at the level of the individual institutions, which will struggle to evolve. And if private universities are able to navigate this disruptive transition, they will have to do so by creating autonomous business units.” . . .

“Several recommendations for policy makers flow from these observations. Policy makers should:
— Eliminate barriers that block disruptive innovations and partner with the innovators to provide better educational opportunities.
— Remove barriers that judge institutions based on their inputs such as seat time, credit hours, and student-faculty ratios.
— Not focus on degree attainment as the sole measure of success. . . . Real outcomes and real mastery — as often shown in work portfolios for example — are more important.
— Fund higher education with the aim of increasing quality and decreasing cost.”

OERs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
by Tony Bates
Feb. 6, 2011, E-learning and Distant Education Resources

“I increasingly fear that the open educational resources movement is being used as a way of perpetuating inequalities in education while purporting to be democratic. Some components of OERs also smack of hypocrisy, elitism and cultural imperialism (the bad), as well as failure to apply best practices in teaching and learning (the ugly). Despite my support for the idea of sharing in education (the good), these concerns have been gnawing away at me for some time, so after 42 years of working in open learning, I feel it’s time to provide a critique of the open educational resources ‘movement’.” . . .

“Now for the three themes [summarized by Stephen Downes]:
– the good: open content is good, but it is not learning, and is best used by students as part of a wider range of educational activities, or by teachers within a broader program context
– the bad: learning resources that amount to content dumps (examples provides); ‘Content needs not only to be contextualized but also adapted for independent or distance learning.’
– the ugly: ‘the lack of design or adaptation to make it suitable for independent or distance study or for third party use. It is as if 40 years of research on effective practice in distance learning has all been for nothing.’ ”

Online Courseware’s Existential Moment
by Steve Kolowich
Feb. 3, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “In the Internet age, walls are everywhere falling in academe. Online education, all but cleansed of its original stigma, has become commonplace. This is especially true among big public universities, which have clamored to capitalize on new markets by enrolling far-flung students. The University of Massachusetts and Penn State University rake in tens of millions of dollars each year from their online programs. The University of California is considering using online education to help recoup the revenue lost to massive cuts in state funding.”

“But at elite private universities, the online revolution has unfolded differently. At first, several top institutions tried selling their course materials online through websites such as Fathom and AllLearn, but stopped upon discovering that not many people were willing to pay for online courses that did not lead to a diploma. Faced with the choice of either offering degrees online at a price or giving away courses for free, the elites took the road less traveled: they would publish the raw materials — and in some cases videotaped lectures — for certain courses on the Web, but would not offer online pathways for their coveted degrees.”

“Has it made a difference? And where does that unmarked road lead, anyway? Those questions lie at the heart of Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses (Princeton University Press), a new book by Taylor Walsh.” . . .

Online Courses, Still Lacking That Third Dimension
by Randall Stross
Feb. 5, 2011, The New York Times

“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet, most professors will lose their jobs. That includes me. I’m not worried, though, at least for the moment. Amid acute budget crises, state universities like mine can’t afford to take that very big step — adopting the technology that renders human instructors obsolete.” . . .

“Carnegie Mellon, however, does not use these online courses as replacements for its own humanoid instructors. ‘Any tuition-driven, private university would have a hard time being the first one to make a change as drastic as offering an entirely automated course,’ Ms. Walsh told me recently. Candace Thille, the director of Carnegie Mellon’s program, put it this way: ‘There is something motivating about the student’s relationship with the instructor — and with the student’s relationship with other students in the class — that would be absent if each took the course in a software-only environment.’ Those relationships — with humans in the flesh — help students to persevere. Online courses are notorious for high dropout rates.”

Lessons for Online Learning Charter Schools’ Successes and Mistakes Have a Lot to Teach Virtual Educators
by Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker
Spring 2011, EducationNext

“Advocates for virtual education say that it has the power to transform an archaic K-12 system of schooling. Instead of blackboards, schoolhouses, and a six-hour school day, interactive technology will personalize learning to meet each student’s needs, ensure all students have access to quality teaching, extend learning opportunities to all hours of the day and all days of the week, and innovate and improve over time.”

“Indeed, virtual education has the potential not only to help solve many of the most pressing issues in K–12 education, but to do so in a cost-effective manner. More than 1 million public-education students now take online courses, and as more districts and states initiate and expand online offerings, the numbers continue to grow.”

“But to date, there’s little research or publicly available data on the outcomes from K–12 online learning. And even when data are publicly available, as is the case with virtual charter schools, analysts and education officials have paid scant attention to — and have few tools for analyzing — performance. Until policymakers, educators, and advocates pay as much attention to quality as they do to expansion, virtual education will not be ready for a lead role in education reform.” . . .

A Detection Model of College Withdrawal
by Timothy J. Pleskac, Jessica Keeney, Stephanie M. Merritt, Neal Schmitt, and Frederick L. Oswald
2011, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

“An unavoidable fact in higher education is that some students persist in obtaining a degree, while others withdraw. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that only 57% of bachelor’s or equivalent degree-seekers that began college in 2001 had within 6 years graduated from that same college. This overall completion rate is qualified by a number of dimensions. Females have a greater completion rate than males (60% vs. 54%). Completion rates also differ by race and ethnicity, with Asian/Pacific Islanders having the highest rate and American Indian/Alaskan natives the lowest (66% and 40%, respectively; Knapp, Kelly-Reid, & Ginder, 2009). Understanding why some students persist at their chosen institution and others decide to withdraw has important implications for a range of institutional processes including student admissions, intervention efforts for at-risk students, directions for federal funding, and maintenance of a rigorous athletic program (Hagedorn, 2005).”

Upcoming Grant Deadlines:

Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP)
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
Department of Commerce – CFDA No. 11.550

Application Deadline: Mar 17, 2011

Distance Learning and Nonbroadcast Projects: The growth of digital technologies provides new opportunities for distance learning projects using both broadcast and nonbroadcast facilities. NTIA encourages applicants to consider the use of digital technologies in proposing unique or innovative distance learning projects for funding in FY 2010. Examples of innovative digital applications include projects that (1) use broadband technologies for distance learning, (2) distribute educational or informational programming via Direct Broadcast Satellite technologies, (3) provide multi-media content using the digital television transmission infrastructure and delivered through a method that is not a typical broadcast channel, or (4) incorporate video, voice, graphics and data capabilities for online distance learning services. NTIA also encourages applicants to consider broadcast projects which use the multi-channel capacity of digital television to provide innovative distance learning projects.

All PTFP distance learning applications must address substantial and demonstrated needs of the communities being served. NTIA is particularly interested in distance learning projects which benefit traditionally underserved audiences, such as projects serving minorities, people living in rural communities, or those living in disadvantaged areas where distance learning services will provide significant educational opportunities.

State Regs, Students, Horizon Rpt, Attainment, Google, Wireless, OERs, PTFP

GI Bill Changes, App Skills, Open Texts, Communities, Wesch Robinson Videos, Invisible Labs, Grants

To: ITC Members
From: Christine Mullins
Date: Jan. 31, 2011

Changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill to Benefit Distance Learning Students
Department of Veterans Affairs

On Jan. 4, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, which makes a significant change to the Post-9/11 GI Bill which will help distance learning students. In addition to tuition and textbook assistance, “housing allowance is now payable to students (other than those on active duty) enrolled solely in distance learning. The housing allowance payable is equal to one-half the national average basic allowance for housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. The full-time rate for an individual eligible at the 100 percent eligibility tier would be $673.50 for 2011.

Is The “New” Post-9/11 GI Bill Really A “Win” For Vets?
by Daniel Caldwell
Dec. 30, 2010, Vantage Point

. . . “The bill will also add BAH benefits for distance-learning (aka online) students; however the amount will only be half the national average. I was always under the impression (and I could be wrong) that the reason why the post-9/11 GI Bill didn’t have BAH benefits for distance-learning students was to discourage veterans from attending shady (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10361/1113651-84.stm) online for-profit universities. However, online programs are more flexible, especially for veterans with families and jobs and many state schools offer online degree programs that are cheaper than traditional programs. If anything, the VA should be encouraging certain veterans to enroll in online programs.” . . .

See the Benefits Estimator

For more background, see the article Elizabeth Redden wrote in the Jan. 23, 2009 issue of Inside Higher Ed, “Disincentive for Distance Learning.”

How’s Your HTML5? App Skills in Demand
by Joe Light
Jan. 31, 2011, The Wall Street Journal

“Times are good for Web- and mobile-application developers. The number of online listings containing the keywords ‘HTML5,’ ‘Mobile app,’ and ‘Android,’ have skyrocketed over the past year, making them the fastest growing keywords in jobs posted online, according to data tracked by jobs search engine Indeed.com. The number of job listings requesting HTML5, the latest version of the language used to display Web pages, increased 13-fold between the first and fourth quarters of last year, according to Indeed. ‘Twitter’ and ‘jQuery,’ which is used in JavaScript programming, rounded out the top five fastest growing keywords.”

“Customers of Dice.com, a job board for tech professionals, expect cloud computing — which enables users to access programs and data stored online — and mobile-application development to be two of the quickest growing in-demand skill sets this year, said Tom Silver, senior vice president of North America for Dice Holdings Inc. ‘Virtually all companies are figuring out how to make use of mobile apps and don’t know how to do it as well as they need to,’ he said.”

McGraw-Hill to Provide English Instruction and Test Prep Through Cellphones in India
by Josh Keller
Jan. 30, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“McGraw-Hill is building a mobile-phone platform to teach English and college test preparation to people in India, which the publisher hopes will help it tap into rapidly expanding cellphone use in emerging markets. The platform, mConnect, comes as textbook publishers are jockeying to supply learning materials on digital devices. If the software is successful in India, McGraw-Hill plans to offer it in other developing countries in Asia and Africa. The service will initially teach subscribers through text messaging and automated voice response, said Bruce D. Marcus, McGraw-Hill’s executive vice president. For instance, automated software will give Indians feedback on their English-speaking abilities, and a text-message service will offer test-preparation questions and grade the responses.” . . .

The(se) Kids are All Right: Interview with SmartlyEdu Founders
by Keith Hampson
Jan. 30, 2011, Higher Education Management Group

“Alain Meyer, a 17 year-old high school student in Zurich (Switzerland) and Nick Howell, a college student in Indiana (USA), have built a learning management system that reflects the importance of good design. But, SmartlyEdu is about more than design. It also assumes the Net is, first and foremost, a social environment. And sharing of content is part of the system’s basic architecture.” . . .

“What do you see as the limitations of the current LMS model? The main issue is that current learning management systems are developed primarily by people who don’t use the software. They’ve designed their systems around the idea of having as many features as possible while still not getting the fundamentals right. Moodle, Blackboard and the other leaders in the space, focus on feature checklists rather than aiming for the features that people actually use. They just put in everything to accommodate everyone. Smartly may not be optimal for people who want very fine customization and setups, but for everyone else, it will be an unrivaled experience.” . . .

10 More Reasons Why Parents Should Not Send Their Kids to College
by James Altucher
Jan. 30, 2011, The Business Insider

1. People say: Kids learn to be socialized at college.
2. People say: Kids learn how to think in college.
3. Statistics say: College graduates make much more money than non-college graduates.
4. One person said: Not everything boils down to money.
5. My Experience.
6. Parents are scammed.
7. Alternatives. See my just-published post on alternatives to college

Education Without Limits: Why Open Textbooks Are the Way Forward
by David Wiley
Jan. 26, 2011, OpenSource.com

There are 400 million openly licensed materials that can empower teachers to be better instructors through that openness. But there’s a big barrier: adoption. In this video, David Wiley talks about the opportunity and the challenges.

Networks, Neighbourhoods and Communities: A Reflection
by Stephen Downes
Jan. 30, 2011, Half an Hour

. . . “So much discussion in the field of education is based in loosely defined terminology and concepts. Take, for example, the advice to ‘form community’. There are many things this advice could be manifest as, including any of the three accounts of community given above, and a wide variety of other permutations.” . . .

“Typically, the advice to ‘form community’ is understood as advice to form solidary activities and sentiments – what I would in other works characterize as groups – but which here may be more precisely understood as actions undertaken in unison (‘collaboration’) and sentiments held in unison (‘commonality’). But of course such exhortations are only one way communities can organize, and not even the most effective ways. But there is always no shortage of people – Larry Sanger, Jaron Lanier, Sherry Turkle, to mention a few raised recently – ready to lament the ‘lost community’ or ‘techno-groupthink’ in technology-based education.”

“What do these criticisms mean? What is their validity? Rather than use prejudicial and imprecise vocabulary, we can examine what it is about technology-supported learning and its proponents that bothers these authors. Perhaps it’s all about a sentiment of community lost, as defined above. In such a case, we can respond to it meaningfully, with clarity and precision.”

“Or take the discussion of ‘interaction’ in online learning. While more interaction is typically lauded as better, we tend to be sharply limited to narrowly defined notions of interaction – perhaps Moore’s formulation of learner-content, learner-instructor or learner-learner interaction. Or maybe Anderson’s more sophisticated formulation of the same idea.”

“But if we can approach the concept of ‘interaction’ from the network perspective, allowing for the existence of many types or strands of interaction, many degrees or strengths of interaction, various interactive media, and more (as I tried to explain in this series). Again, the point is that we can use network terminology to explain much more clearly complex phenomena such as instruction, communities and interaction.”

“Wellman and Leighton’s paper was written in 1970. It is well-worth anyone’s while to look at more recent work to appreciate the depth and utility of network analysis.”

Egypt Cuts Off Most Internet and Cell Service
by Matt Richtel
Jan. 28, 2011, New York Times

“Autocratic governments often limit phone and Internet access in tense times. But the Internet has never faced anything like what happened in Egypt on Friday, when the government of a country with 80 million people and a modernizing economy cut off nearly all access to the network and shut down cellphone service. The shutdown caused a 90 percent drop in data traffic to and from Egypt, crippling an important communications tool used by antigovernment protesters and their supporters to organize and to spread their message.” . . .

Blackboard and McGraw-Hill Test New Course System in 20 Pilots
by Dian Schaffhauser
Jan. 27, 2011, Campus Technology

“A slew of schools are testing out a blend of course management functionality and textbook content that could make for a simpler transition for institutions to the use of more digital curriculum. Blackboard and McGraw-Hill Higher Education have put together an integrated digital course system that combines a single point of access, learning tools, and class content, along with multiple other features.”

“Currently, 20 colleges and universities are running pilots tests, and an additional 100 instructors are expected to participate. The offering combines the latest version of Blackboard Learn, a learning management system, with McGraw-Hill’s Connect and Create. Connect is an application to help faculty create digital course content and assignments and do automatic grading; Create lets faculty compile textbooks that use their own materials as well as content from the company’s publishing portfolio.”

“The joint offering, which has no name, features single sign-on to give users access to all of the programs with one log-in and does automatic grade synchronization between Connect assignments and the Blackboard Learn gradebook. Faculty can build their own textbooks by compiling chapters from the McGraw-Hill catalog and then selling them to students through a link on the course site. Other tools enable instructors to provide students with textual content and recorded lectures, also from within the course site. The product is expected to be widely available in summer 2011 and will run on Blackboard Learn version 9.1.” . . .

Video Uses Student Voices to Explore New Directions in Education
by Tushar Rae
Jan. 26, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

Michael Wesch, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, began “The Visions of Students Tomorrow” on January 18. It is a new video-collaboration project that he hopes will help generate a conversation about the “media-ated life” of many students. He wants not only to gain insights into how students interact with their dense and ever-changing media environment, but also to tackle the question of whether instructors have kept pace with it.

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms
Sir Ken Robinson
Oct. 14, 2010

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.
For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit: http://www.sirkenrobinson.com

The Invisible Computer Lab
by Steve Kolowich
Jan. 20, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

“In the future, campus computer labs will be invisible, personal computers will be shapeshifters, and colleges will have to spend much less to make sure students have access to the software they need for certain courses. This according to technology officials at several colleges that have recently deployed “virtual computing labs” — Web-based hubs where students can go to use sophisticated programs from their personal computers without having to buy and install expensive software, or slog to a campus lab and pray for a vacant workstation.”

“Essentially, the virtual “lab” is a protocol that takes programs running on college hardware and beams the images via the Web to any computer desktop, where students can create and save work as though the programs were running on their own hard drives. Since the performance of the software does not depend on the processing power of the computer — only on the strength of the Internet connection — even students with relatively clunky machines can use advanced software without difficulty, campus technologists say.” . . .

The Social Side of the Internet
by Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith
Jan 18, 2011, Pew Internet and American Life Project

“The internet is now deeply embedded in group and organizational life in America. A new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has found that 75 percent of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization and internet users are more likely than others to be active: 80 percent of internet users participate in groups, compared with 56 percent of non-internet users. And social media users are even more likely to be active: 82 percent of social network users and 85 percent of Twitter users are group participants.”

“In this survey, Pew Internet asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies. It becomes clear as people are asked about their activities that their use of the internet is having a wide-ranging impact on their engagement with civic, social, and religious groups. Asked to assess the overall impact of the internet on group activities:” . . .

Evaluating Online Tutorials for University Faculty, Staff, and Students: The Contribution of Just-in-Time Online Resources to Learning and Performance
Jennifer Brill and Yeonjeong Park
January 2011, International Journal on E-Learning

Abstract: The effective integration of current technologies in teaching and research is a high priority for today’s universities. To support the technology skills of university faculty, staff, and students, the subject university’s office for faculty training and support, provides free, 24/7 access to a collection of online technology tutorials leased from a professional vendor, PBJ (pseudonym). Despite significant financial investment, the effectiveness of these tutorials has never been evaluated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of PBJ online technology training tutorials in supporting the technology skills development of faculty, staff, and students at a large university. A customized Web-based survey was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data from PBJ users. Findings revealed that PBJ users are largely satisfied with this online learning resource. However, users also recommended improvements: providing alternative formats/media for flexibility in learning; offering more practice opportunities to skill-build; providing content that is current, comprehensive, and targets high-need areas; and resolving usability issues such as cumbersome navigation. In sum, findings resulted in practical recommendations for improvement to this facet of the university’s technology support strategy as well as insights for other universities engaged in similar efforts. Implications for effective e-learning evaluation are offered.

Upcoming Grant Deadlines

Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21)
National Science Foundation
Solicitation 10-619

Full Proposal Target Date: Feb. 22, 2011 (Planning proposals ONLY)
Full Proposal Deadline Date: April 27, 2011 (Type I and Type II proposals ONLY)
Full Proposal Target Date: July 28, 2011 (Planning proposals ONLY)

The Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) program seeks to reverse engage “larger numbers of students, teachers, and educators in computing education and learning at earlier stages in the education pipeline. While interventions in primary education are within scope, the CE21 program focuses special attention on activities targeted at the middle and high school levels (i.e., secondary education) and in early undergraduate education.”

“The goals of the CE21 program are to:
— Increase the number and diversity of K-14 students and teachers who develop and practice computational competencies in a variety of contexts; and
— Increase the number and diversity of early postsecondary students who are engaged and have the background in computing necessary to successfully pursue degrees in computing-related and computationally-intensive fields of study.”

“The program seeks to increase computational competencies for all students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, or socioeconomic status, and regardless, too, of eventual career choices. By promoting and enhancing computing K-14 education, the CE21 program seeks to increase interest in computing as a field in its own right, and also to better prepare students for successful careers in other computing-intensive fields.” . . .

GI Bill Changes, App Skills, Open Texts, Communities, Wesch Robinson Videos, Invisible Labs, Grants

Defining Quality, $2B Grants for CCs and SCORM, Open Ed Resources, State Online Regs, Disabilities

To: ITC Members
From: Christine Mullins
Date: Jan. 25, 2011

Lumina Foundation Releases Degree Profile: A New Framework for Defining the Learning and Quality that College Degrees Should Signify
Jan. 25, 2011, The Lumina Foundation

“Lumina Foundation for Education today released a proposed version of a Degree Profile, a framework for defining and ultimately measuring the general knowledge and skills that individual students need to acquire in order to earn degrees at various levels, such as associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The Degree Profile is intended to help define generally what is expected of college graduates, regardless of their majors or fields of study. Lumina will fund experiments within a variety of settings.” . . .

“The co-authors” . . . “set forth a set of “reference points” that students should be able to meet in five primary areas of competence: Specialized Knowledge, Broad/ Integrated Knowledge, Applied Learning, Intellectual Skills and Civic Learning. The Degree Profile makes explicit expectations that have been implicit. In so doing, use of the Degree Profile may provide an opportunity to strengthen higher education and the focus on student learning. By offering a clearer understanding of what degrees represent in terms of learning, the Degree Profile could help ensure the quality of degrees offered by new providers and delivery mechanisms.” . . .

Lumina Unveils a National Framework for Measuring Student Learning,” by Sara Hebel, Chronicle of Higher Education

What Degrees Should Mean,” by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed

OER and Standards
by Michael Feldstein
Jan. 24, 2011, e-Literate

Speaking of that $2 billion initiative by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education that everybody is buzzing about, it turns out that, not only does it mandate a license for the educational resources it funds (CC-BY), it also mandates an interchange format. Namely SCORM. Rob Abel, CEO of IMS, has posted a long rant (http://www.imsglobal.org/community/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=58&threadid=592&enterthread=y ) about why he thinks this is a bad idea. I don’t endorse all of Rob’s criticisms of SCORM, but I strongly agree with the point that SCORM and IMS Common Cartridge (the other main contender for a standard educational content interchange format) have substantially different affordances that are appropriate for substantially different use cases.

$2 Billion for OERs Could End the Textbook Industry As We Know It . . .
by Dave Cormier
Jan. 21, 2011, Dave’s Educational Blog

“The US government support of Creative Commons removes the risk from trying it out. The biggest impediment to innovation, in my experience, is the inability for government educational professionals to shoulder the risk of innovation. We have long said ‘no one ever got fired for hiring IBM’ and this has stayed fairly true in our industry. The open innovators have been outliers. And looking down the face of the public and answering the ‘but if it’s free doesn’t that mean it isn’t worth anything’ question has always been a problem. No longer. Someone else bigger leaped first.” . . .

“I like the idea of free textbooks. Particularly for those topics at the entry level where we all pretty much agree on what needs to be taught. It gives us a chance to open specialties to people who might just want to peak inside or to those who might want to engage. I think the textbook industry (at this level) is an artifact of an earlier time when we needed to package knowledge in ways that could fit in a truck. I can’t believe i’m saying this… but Senator stevens was right… the internet is not a dumptruck. We don’t need them anymore. I imagine that this will cost good people jobs, and that they’ll have to move elsewhere… and that sucks. The emancipation of millions of people, however, I think is worth it.”

As the Web Goes Mobile, Colleges Fail to Keep Up
by Josh Keller
Jan. 23, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . “Hand-held devices like smartphones and tablets are fast becoming the primary way many people use the Internet. Half of all college students used mobile gear to get on the Internet every day last year, compared with 10 percent of students in 2008, according to Educause, the educational-technology consortium.”

“But many colleges still treat their mobile Web sites as low-stakes experiments. That attitude risks losing prospective applicants and donors through admissions and alumni portals that don’t work, and it risks frustrating current students who want to manage coursework and the rest of their lives with their mobile phones, says David R. Morton, director of mobile communications at the University of Washington. ‘For so many institutions,’ he says, ‘mobile is a part-time job, almost an afterthought.’ ”

“Colleges that have put some effort into mobile have taken one of three paths. Some buy applications from Blackboard, the educational-software and technology giant. Others opt for a competing open-source platform created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is free to use. Colleges in the third group have built applications themselves. iShoe, an app to track college athletics at Ohio State University, for instance, is expected to help turn casual football fans into connected alumni.” . . .

The States of Online Regulation
by Steve Kolowich
Jan. 21, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “Online education seems to be winning the battle against the initial skepticism about its legitimacy. Online enrollments have grown at nine times the rate of classroom-based education since 2002, according to the Sloan Consortium (with major buy-in in the public sector). But deep-seated opinions — bolstered by the occasional unmasking of a fly-by-night diploma mill — are not the only obstacles left over from many centuries of campus-bound higher education. As higher education has evolved, state-by-state regulatory standards have remained ‘inconsistent, complex, and behind [the] online boom,’ says the Eduventures report.”

. . . “In October, the U.S. Department of Education formally recused itself from handing down any federal standard clarifying what it means for an online college to “operate” in a state, in essence telling state regulators and online colleges to work it out among themselves — with the stipulation that institutions found to be out of compliance with state rules might be barred from taking federal student aid.” . . .

“Richard Garrett, managing director of Eduventures, told Inside Higher Ed that the most likely outcome of this new federal mandate — which takes effect in July — is that states will probably take the occasion to bolster their existing positions on what it means for an online college to “operate” inside their borders. Happily for colleges looking to expand their online footprint without having to jump through regulatory hoops at every turn, the majority of states appear to fall on the more permissive end of the spectrum.”

For a free copy of the Eduventures report contact Blair Maloney at bmaloney@eduventures.com or 617-532-6063.

Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities Files Suit Against US Dept. of Ed to STOP Unlawful Regulations
Press Release
Jan. 21, 2011

“The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), on behalf of its more than 1,500 member institutions, today filed a lawsuit in the federal District Court in Washington, DC seeking to block portions of the Department of Education’s October 29, 2010 final regulations, 75 Fed. Reg. 66,832, which impose unlawful and unfair limitations on access to higher education.” . . .

“As explained below, the new Department of Education regulations challenged in APSCU’s lawsuit go far beyond lawful regulatory efforts in three areas within the Title IV federal student aid program-state authorization to conduct educational activities within state borders (34 C.F.R. §§ 600.4(a)(3), 600.5(a)(4), 600.6(a)(3), 600.9, and 668.43(b)), employee compensation (34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)), and misrepresentations to the public (34 C.F.R. §§ 668.71-668.75):

“The State Authorization regulations force states to adopt particular regulatory regimes rather than adopt their own oversight structures. Notably, these regulations impede innovation and make it significantly more difficult for schools to provide students with online and other distance education programs since they require the authorization of every state where any student may be located, rather than relying on the review of the state in which the school is actually located.” . . .

Also see “For-Profit Colleges Open Another Front,” by Doug Lederman, Jan. 24, 2011, Inside Higher Ed.

One in Four Americans Live With a Disability that Interferes with Activities of Daily Living
by Susannah Fox
Jan. 21, 2011, Pew Internet and American Life Project

According to a national survey conducted in September 2010, 27 percent of American adults live with a disability that interferes with activities of daily living, including:

— 15 percent of American adults who say they have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
— 11 percent of American adults who say that, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, they have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
— nine percent of American adults who say they have serious difficulty hearing.
— eight percent of American adults who say that, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, they have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping.
— seven percent of American adults who say they are blind or have serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses.
— three percent of American adults who say they have trouble dressing or bathing.

Americans living with disability are more likely than other adults to live in lower-income households: 46 percent of adults with a disability live in households with $30,000 or less in annual income, compared with 26 percent of adults who report no disabilities and live in households with that level of income.

They are also likely to have low levels of education:  61 percent of Americans living with a disability have a high school education or less, compared with 40 percent of adults who report no disabilities and have that level of educational attainment.  Americans living with a disability are also likely to be older:  58 percent are age 50 or older, compared with 36 percent of adults who report no disabilities who are that age.

Summary of Key Changes to the E-rate Program in the Sixth Report and Order
Jan. 21, 2011, American Library Association

The Office for Information and Technology Policy (OITP) has compiled a report of key changes to the E-rate program that will take effect under an order issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in September.  The report also outlines the American Library Association’s (ALA) efforts to review the rule changes, compare these changes to the previous program rules, and inform the library community of the resulting impact on the eligibility of various services and the application process.

College Retention Rates Improving at Two-Year Schools, Declining at Four-Year Schools
Press Release
Jan. 20, 2011, ACT News

“The first-to-second-year retention rate at U.S. two-year public colleges has risen to its highest level in 27 years of research, while the retention rate at four-year private colleges has dropped to its lowest level in that time, according to data from ACT, Inc.”

“Overall college retention rates — the percentage of first-year, full-time students who return to the same institution for their second year of college — remain relatively stable. Just two-thirds (67 percent) of all first-year students at U.S. two- and four-year colleges returned their second year of school, compared to 68 percent in 2005 and 66 percent last year. The data were gathered in ACT’s annual survey of more than 2,500 two-year and baccalaureate colleges and universities across the country.” . . .

E-learning Outlook for 2011
by Tony Bates
Jan. 16, 2011, eLearning and Distant Education Resources

. . . “The growth of fully online learning (i.e. online distance education) continued at a rapid rate (over 20 percnet last year), and increasing online enrollments will certainly continue through 2011. However, as the market approaches saturation, the rate of growth of fully online courses will level off, and this is likely to happen fairly soon. One reason for a slowdown in the growth of fully online courses, besides market saturation, will be the move to more flexible campus-based programs that will offer more options to part-time students and lifelong learners, rather than having to do a whole course or program online. However, market saturation for fully online learning is at least five to ten years away, and in the meantime we will see continued growth.”

“What I am hoping for 2011, though, is that this increase in the quantity of e-learning will start being accompanied by some major innovations in teaching, as instructors, instructional designers, and institutions begin to understand better the unique features of new technologies, and become more discriminating about the ‘affordances’ of both campus-based and online learning.” . . .

Wolfram Education Apps Raise Teaching Dilemma
by Stephen Shankland
Jan. 18, 2011, CNet News

“Wolfram Research, a software company with deep mathematical and scientific expertise, is expanding to the broad education market with a range of mobile apps. But although those apps hold the promise of turning smartphones into sophisticated next-generation calculators, they also raise questions about the best way for students to learn.” . . .

“Now Wolfram is showing signs that indicate a deeper understanding of consumer sensibilities, announcing new iOS applications called Wolfram Course Assistants to help students with algebra, calculus, and music theory. They tap into Alpha’s Mathematica abilities behind the scenes, but they’re focused, packaged, and reasonably priced at $2 for algebra and music theory and $3 for calculus.” . . .

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Increase Educational and Health Care Access in Rural Communities
Press Release
Jan. 24, 2011, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 106 projects in 38 states and one territory have been selected to receive more than $34.7 million in grants to fund educational projects and expand access to health care services in rural areas through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.  The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program provides access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas.  See award recipients.

House Republicans Unveil Plan to End Federal Arts and Humanities Agencies and Aid to Public Broadcasting
by Mike Boehm
Jan. 20, 2011, Los Angeles Times

“Federal support for arts and culture is now officially in the cross hairs of congressional Republicans, if that’s a metaphor we’re still allowed to use.  Any way you want to describe it, the Republican Study Committee, made up of about 165 GOP members of the House of Representatives, on Thursday announced a budget-cutting plan aimed at slashing federal spending, and it calls for the elimination of the nation’s two leading makers of government arts grants: the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Also on the chopping block is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The arts and humanities endowments each get $167.5 million a year; the broadcasting agency, which supports public radio and television, gets $445 million.”

A Practical Guide for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum (Second Edition)
edited by Karla Gottlieb and Gail Robinson (2006)

This 97-page book provides practical, easy-to-use applications for community college faculty to integrate civic responsibility concepts and practices into their courses; includes 50 different exercises, activities, and assessment tools.

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

US Labor Department Encourages Applications for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program
Press Release
Jan. 20, 2011, US Department of Labor

Solicitation for Grant Applications

“The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a solicitation for grant applications under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program. The Labor Department will award approximately $500 million this year through the program and a total of $2 billion over the next four years. Grants will support the development and improvement of postsecondary programs of two years or less that use evidence-based or innovative strategies to prepare students for successful careers in growing and emerging industries. The program will be administered by the Labor Department in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.” . . .

“Applicants must be community colleges or other two-year degree granting institutions of higher education as defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965. The grants will enable eligible institutions to expand their capacity to create new education or training programs — or improve existing ones — to meet the needs of local or regional businesses. By statute, every state, as well as the District of Columbia and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, will receive at least $2.5 million each year in grant awards.” . . .

The grant program will expand opportunities for workers by: accelerating progress and reducing time to completion; improving retention and achievement rates; building instructional programs that meet industry needs; and strengthening online and technology-enabled learning.” . . .

“Prospective applicants are encouraged to view the online tutorial “Grant Applications 101: A Plain English Guide to ETA Competitive Grants” available through Workforce3One at http://www.workforce3one.org/page/grants_toolkit .”

Plus 50 Completion Strategy Grants

Application Deadline: March 4, 2011

AACC will award eleven $12,000 grants to community colleges committed to enhancing or expanding their existing programs for students 50 years of age and older — particularly those who have earned prior college credits without earning a credential — to ensure that they obtain the degrees, certificates, and not-for-credit credentials sought by employers in high-demand, high-growth fields.

Enhancement or expansion may be defined as offering career development and other support services that foster completion (ex. financial aid assistance, computer technology skill-building, math and English refresher courses, flexible scheduling options, tailored career advising, or completion coaches or advisors); redesigning programs to meet specific needs such as offering noncredit and credit, compressed, fast-tracked, or accelerated courses; recruiting and reaching out to the plus 50 population; offering professional development to faculty to enhance their effectiveness in working with plus 50 students; assessing prior learning; capturing previously earned credits; establishing or enhancing collaboration and partnerships with local employers; and, increasing access to college for plus 50 students (e.g., making accommodations for job or transportation challenges to class attendance).   This program is funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Defining Quality, $2B Grants for CCs and SCORM, Open Ed Resources, State Online Regs, Disabilities